It easily ranked as one of the most unusual finishes of a Churchill Downs race in recent memory, and trainer Steve Margolis – who was at the center of the discussion
surrounding the race – said the experience was a “first” for him.
Margolis viewed through binoculars as a pair of his horses – Mount Joy Stables’ Air Squadron and Shake Up, owned by the Estate of Elaine Klein, Richard Klein and Bert Klein
– battled through the stretch in the eighth race on Friday’s opening day
of Churchill Downs’ September meet. Air Squadron, ridden by Miguel Mena, held off Shake Up and apprentice rider Dylan Davis by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/16-mile
maiden race for 3-year-olds and up.
But the stewards
quickly flashed the “inquiry” sign and ultimately reversed the
order-of-finish involving the top two, awarding the victory to Shake Up
and demoting Air Squadron to the runner-up spot.
So Margolis lost the victory via disqualification, only to be elevated to the top spot by that decision.
“I’ve been put-up in races
and I’ve been taken down,” Margolis said. “But I’ve never been put up in
the same race in which I was taken down.”
Margolis has watched the race
several times since the stewards made their call, and said Air Squadron
drifted out under left-handed pressure from Mena and pushed Air
Squadron out in the track. He had no reason to argue
over the stewards’ call, but that’s easy to do when you’re a winner
It was the second consecutive
disqualification for Air Squadron, who came into the race off a
fourth-place finish in a race at Ellis Park in which he was demoted to
10th. It was the
fourth race for the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who had
finished third in a pair of starts earlier in the year at Gulfstream
Shape Up, a 3-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten, had finished fifth in his only previous start on July 15 at Indiana Downs.
“I thought Air Squadron was
really set-up for a big race, which he ran,” Margolis said. “We’ve
always liked the Kleins’ horse. We’ve always like him and he’s the
first colt we’ve had out of that mare (Round Robin).
He’s a big, strapping horse and we were going to try to run him on the
last weekend of the Spring Meet, but he acted up in the gate and we
decided to give him a little more time.”
TRIO OF TEST STARS TOP NOMINATIONS FOR GRADE III DOGWOOD
A trio of fillies who competed in Saratoga’s Test Stakes (GI) and Churchill Downs stakes winner Blueeysintherein head a roster of 25 3-year-old fillies
nominated for the $100,000-added Dogwood Stakes (GIII) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Sept. 21.
It will be the 38th
running of the Dogwood, a seven-furlong race over the main track that
has also been run at 1 1/16 miles and mile during its history.
The three nominees that competed in a memorable running of the seven-furlong Test include Rontos Racing Stable’s Wildcat Lily, the runner-up who was beaten a head by Test winner Sweet Lulu; Maggi
Moss’ So Many Ways, the winner of the 2012 Spinaway (GI) who was beaten by two lengths in a fourth-place Test finish for trainer Tom Amoss; and Donarra Thoroughbreds LLC’s Irish Lute, sixth in the Test for trainer Dallas Stewart.
So Many Ways also won the
seven-furlong Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. The
Eight Belles runner-up – Unlimited Equine’s Fusaichiswonderful – is also nominated. Trained by Todd
Pletcher, the daughter of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus was a graded stakes winner in Puerto Rico before moving to the U.S. She also ran third in Baby J in the Victory Ride (GI) at Belmont Park.
Also on the list of nominees is Blueeyesintherein, winner of the 2012 Debutante (GIII) at Churchill Downs for trainer Garry Simms. The daughter of Magna Graduate has won three of four races at the Louisville